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Behind the Scenes: The Makings of a Vintage Fashion Show

George Kartis Model Search

I was excited when George invited me to view a fitting for his vintage fashion show at the end of the month. Arriving at his Craftsman home in Ocean View Norfolk, VA I was greeted by his living room with vibrant, red walls that perfectly coordinated with an array of antique furniture and finished with several vintage Persian rugs. My eyes darted from painting to sculpture to objets d’art and then to George himself sitting by the front window on his phone wearing a red & black buffalo check button-up, black pants and a black Greek fisherman’s hat. His styling assistant, Lisa, cheerfully greeted me in her vintage 70’s pantsuit; navy blue background with green hibiscus flowers and Hawaiian leis in varying shades of blues. Brigitte, holding Clovis the miniature poodle, introduced herself as the hair stylist and a young red-headed man dressed in oversized vintage tweed pants told me his name was Ben. The group’s warm greeting and George’s lived in home instantly made me feel feel at home.

We got right to business. Two racks of vintage clothes sprawled between the living room into the dining room, the first all men’s clothing and the other all women’s. Ben was styled in a marled brown tweed suit. Several different color shirts were considered until the sky blue button down was decided upon and the perfect silk tie red with an orange, white and blue print.

The second model, Lily, arrived shortly after Ben left. While Brigitte styled her hair into a low chignon I played dress up. George handed me the most gorgeous authentic cheetah fur coat. It needed conditioning and my shoulders were too broad to actually put it on, so I draped it over my dress. Lisa gave me a pair of vintage inspired cheetah print heels, and champagne color opera gloves. George handed me a brown faux alligator clutch with a red lucite clasp, and we finished the look with a reproduction sparrow broach and an authentic emerald green velvet hat.

Playing dress up gave George time to style Lily. She was fitted into a gorgeous green wool blazer with asymmetrical buttons at the waist and double flap pockets on the hip and one on the chest. Big, brass buttons popped in contrast to the deep green. She wore a coordinating green tea length skirt and was accessorized with brown driving gloves, t-strap green chunky heels, brown alligator skin handbag and the same green velvet hat. Stunning.

George and I then had a few minutes to sit down and chat; I had so many questions for him. What was the impetus for a fashion show like this? Where did you source all the wonderful vintage pieces? What experience did he have in the fashion industry?

With an affinity for vintage Harris tweed jackets and an entrepreneurial prowess, George would buy quality vintage items at thrift stores and consign them to reputable boutiques like Bygone’s in Richmond, VA. The market changed several years ago; reproduction became more popular and authentic vintage became harder to sell, so George’s collection has grown, insomuch that he’s able to curate an entire fashion show.

George currently scouts models to be signed to major modeling agencies, but with a lifetime of experiences in the fashion industry, George Kartis has learned what it takes to produce a show. He started out as a model in 1985, and since then he’s lived in NYC and Paris. Having been invited backstage at different fashion week shows he’s done hair & makeup at for several fashion houses. He’s also been a fashion photographer for years.

Years of experience in the fashion industry and being an avid vintage connoisseur has culminated into a Tea Room Fashion Show. George’s vision is that of the days of yesteryear when ladies would gather in the dining room of their city’s major department store. As women sipped their afternoon tea each would make their fashion choices as the newest mode of fashion would be modeled walking through the dining room touching each table. George’s models from around the country are flying in to make this show a success. Most of the show will be outfitted in 90% authentic vintage clothing sourced from Bygones, Echoes of Time and various thrift stores.

This will be the third show of its kind; the first two shows were hosted at The Chamberlin, the historic hotel turned retirement home on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, VA. This year it will be at the new Mermaid Winery Shore Drive; a modern venue in juxtaposition with the vintage tea room 1940’s fashion show - A Champagne Brunch Sunday, March 25th 11AM - 2PM. Admission includes a plated meal, a glass of champagne and the show itself. There will be an MC and her 12-year old co-MC, along with an accordian player, and a playlist to bring you along a sentimental journey. Come dressed in your Sunday finest, vintage inspired ensemble. I'll see you there! Tickets available HERE. Proceeds will be donated to Operation Smile.


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